Formula on Decreasing HP/Increasing Damage

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Decreasing Monster Hit-points & Increasing Monster Damage Proportionately

I'm sure plenty of DMs have aimed for this goal: decreasing monster hit-points, and increasing their damage.
Decreasing the hit-points so combat goes faster, but increasing their damage so the monster remains as effective/challenging as it was with's full alotment of hit-points.

My question is: Is there a formula of some kind to decide how much damage should go up with respect to how much hit-points you remove?

My instinct tells me to keep the ratio linear.  Example, if the monster is decreased 25% hit-points, increase the damage it deals by 25%.  But I'm not sure if this is right, so I figure it'd ask.  After all, if a monster deals 2d8+10, and I decrease him down to 1 hit-point, increasing his one attack to 4d8+20 (+100%) doesn't seem appropriate, since he'll go down in one hit... so is there a forumla for this?

Thanks!
The 25%/25% rule worked fairly well for my group, when we used it. Be careful on encounters that are level+2 or more -- those level differences come with a fairly wide range of damage outputs. Perhaps increase monster damage only 20% at that point.

However, we have moved on to just cutting the hit points. We have an out-of-game agreement that the PCs are expected to press onward more often, and that extended rests can only be taken with natural "end of the day" shifts instead of the end of the favorite resources. (Short rests are however short or long the players want them to be, and have even been as short as "two rounds to catch our breath" before pressing on to chase a fleeing foe.)
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
There isn't a single formula for this because monster design varies so much.

That said, the damage increase should be modest or the fights will become swingy, and you don't generally want to muck around with monsters from the MM3/MV era since they already have higher damage and lower durability by design.

For MM1/MM2 standard creatures, you'll probably be okay if you add +1 damage/level and reduce hit points by about 1/3, but there are a fair number of them for which this won't work.

For creatures with relatively normal damage expressions, you're probably better off to swap in the MM3+ math instead of trying to modify their existing values, since that solves a number of other issues (defenses, attack values, and ability-based lopsidedness), which are often where the problem really lies.
For damage expressions, I use these: dmg42.blogspot.com/2012/02/boot-on-face-...
For hit points, my average monster gains 6-7 hit points per level (as opposed to 8-9 as is standard).  For the math on that one, I first referred to goinglast.net/1st-level-excitement-from-... but his hit point suggestions came out WAY too low, so I repeated his math, but using Char OP damage as the baseline instead.
Thanks for the excellent replies!!!  Laughing
I first referred to goinglast.net/1st-level-excitement-from-... but his hit point suggestions came out WAY too low...


Thanks for linking this - interesting read.  From what I can tell, the fundamental error that the author made was to ignore the impact of encounter and daily powers on effective DPR - he seems to have calculated based only on at-will damage.  Since overall DPR relies more and more on encounter/daily powers as you level, he saw a drop-off in DPR relative to monster hit points that doesn't really exist.

I've started experimenting with a class of monster that is halfway between minion and standard, but as the first full session with these rules is tomorrow, it's far too early to say how well it will work.  I'm using 75% damage, 40% hp, -1 to all defences and weighting them at half XP - all relative to a standard.  The idea is that these replace minions entirely along with standards in many cases.  I've been really pleased with the difference this change has made to combat in testing.  What they should achieve is:


  1. A significant part of the fun in combat is hitting and then seeing how much damage you do.  Lowered defences mean you hit more and having more than 1hp makes the amount of damage that you do meaningful.  

  2. One-shot kills should still be fairly common, but will feel like more of an achievement when they occur.

  3. Using focus fire tactics becomes somewhat less of a necessity, but still makes combats easier.

  4. The sometimes tedious 'mopping up' phase of combat is shorter.


Will post full details if they prove to be successful.
I've started experimenting with a class of monster that is halfway between minion and standard, but as the first full session with these rules is tomorrow, it's far too early to say how well it will work.  I'm using 75% damage, 40% hp, -1 to all defences and weighting them at half XP - all relative to a standard.  The idea is that these replace minions entirely along with standards in many cases.  I've been really pleased with the difference this change has made to combat in testing.  What they should achieve is:


  1. A significant part of the fun in combat is hitting and then seeing how much damage you do.  Lowered defences mean you hit more and having more than 1hp makes the amount of damage that you do meaningful.  

  2. One-shot kills should still be fairly common, but will feel like more of an achievement when they occur.

  3. Using focus fire tactics becomes somewhat less of a necessity, but still makes combats easier.

  4. The sometimes tedious 'mopping up' phase of combat is shorter.


Will post full details if they prove to be successful.


This is a great idea.

I've been doing something similar to this for a while.  I use (or make up my own) minions, but give them hit-points so they die in approximately two or three hits (at-wills).  I feel it gives a fun cinematic feel, since you can throw a ton of them at the party, they are slaying them left and right, but they aren't quite as insignificant as 1 hit-point minions (I'm using the term insignifcant liberally, since I know 1 hit-point minions can sometimes make a difference).  
Typically, I use them to beef up a group of unmodified MM1-based monsters, and do not give XP for the "super minions" (since MM1 monsters are underpowered as it is anyway).

Your idea takes this to a higher level, and my guess is it'd work great.
When I go for something like that I make the "two hit minion" module.  The result is fairly similar.

Basically the creature is a minion in most forms except that their damage is 1-2 higher per tier and their defenses are 1 lower.  They only take 2 hits to kill, but each minion has a threshold.


Glass Spellorb
Tiny magical animate (construct)
Level 3 Minion - XP 38
Initiative +9        Senses Perception +4; Darkvision
HP 1*; a missed attack never damages a minion.
AC 16; Fortitude 12, Reflex 17, Will 13
Immune disease, poison; Resist 10 lighting, thunder
Speed Fly (hover) 6

Trait
Empowered Minion
The first time this creature takes damage it is bloodied.  The second time this creature takes damage it is slain.  If this creature takes 10 damage or more from a single attack it is slain regardless of being bloodied or not.

 Bolt (standard, at-will)  Lightning
+8 vs AC; 3 thunder damage, and ongoing 2 lightning damage (save ends).

Lightning Field
When a Glass Spellorb hits a target already taking ongoing damage from another orb, it instead deals 6 thunder damage and ongoing 5 lightning damage (save ends).
Alignment Unaligned        Languages -
Skills Stealth +14
Str 8 (0)      Dex 26 (+9)      Wis 16 (+4)
Con 17 (+4)      Int 4 (-2)      Cha 14 (+3)

Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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My house rule keeps one-hit minions.  I just require that they actually get hit: minions ignore autodamage (outside of Magic Missile, by special exception). On the other hand, they die from one HIT, that hit doesn't need to inherently do any damage.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima